ICAM Major

Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Computer Music and Music Technology


The ICAM Program in the Music and Visual Arts departments draws upon, and aims to bring together, ideas and paradigms from computer science, art and cultural theory. The departments take for granted that the computer has become a meta-medium and that artists and musicians working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works. This makes the program unique among other existing computer art or design programs.

The program also recognizes that creating sophisticated artistic works with computers requires a new model of the creative process, one that combines traditional artistic procedures with the experimental research characteristic of the sciences.

The goals of the program are:

  • to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture
  • to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media
  • to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts
  • to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked into particular software currently available on the market

Majors entering as freshmen   ^

All courses taken to satisfy major requirements, regardless of the department,  must be taken for a letter grade, and only grades of C- or better will be accepted in the major.

ICAM Music Major Curriculum - Students Entering Fall 2016 or later

(Students entering Fall 2006-Fall 2015 refer to the PDFs above)  

Lower Division Requirements 

VIS 41: Design Communication 

Beginning Practice: Choose ONE

  • MUS 1A Fundamentals of Music 1
  • MUS 2A Basic Musicianship 1
  • MUS 5 Sound in Time 
  • VIS 1 or 2 or 3 Art-Making 
  • VIS 60 Intro to Digital Photography 
  • VIS 80 Introduction to Studio 

*MATH 20A: Calculus for Science and Engineering 

*MATH 20B: Calculus for Science and Engineering 

**CSE 11: Intro to Computer Science: JAVA 

Theory and History: Choose ONE

  • MUS 4 Introduction to Western Music 
  • MUS 6 Electronic Music 
  • MUS 7 Music, Science, and Computers
  • MUS 13 Worlds of Music
  • MUS 14 Contemporary Music 

Restricted Electives: Choose TWO

  • MUS 1B Fundamentals of Music 2
  • MUS 2B Basic Musicianship 2
  • MUS 4, 5, 6, 7, 14
  • VIS 22 Formations of Modern Art 
  • VIS 70N Introduction to Media 

Visitor Series: Choose ONE

  • VIS 10 Computing Arts Lecture Series 
  • MUS 43 Music Department Seminar (1 unit course to be taken for four quarters)

* Substitute: Math 10ABC OR Math 15A/CSE 20 

**Substitute: Computer Science 8A and 8B 

Upper Division Requirements - 12 Courses 

Foundation: Choose THREE

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​VIS 142 Practices in Computing Arts 
  • VIS 145A Digital Media I: Time, Movement, Sound
  • MUS 170 Musical Acoustics 
  • MUS 171 Computer Music I 

Practice: Choose TWO

  • MUS 171 Computer Music I 
  • MUS 172 Computer Music II 
  • MUS 173 Electronic Music Production and Composition 
  • MUS 174A/B/C Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques
  • MUS 176 Music Technology Seminar 
  • MUS 177 Music Programming 
  • TDDE 141 Theatre Process: Sound Design 
  • VIS 109 Advanced Projects in Media
  • VIS 149 Seminar in Contemporary Computer Topics
  • VIS 131 Special Projects in Media 
  • VIS 132 Installation Production and Studio
  • VIS 141A Computer Programming for the Arts I 
  • VIS 141B Computer Prgramming for the Arts II 
  • VIS 145B Digital Media II
  • VIS 147A Electronic Technologies for Art I 
  • Vis 147B Electronic Technologies for Art II
  • VIS 174 Media Sketchbok
  • ICAM 120 Virtual Environments 

History: Choose ONE

  • VIS 159 History of Art and Technology 
  • MUS 114 Music of the 20th Century 

Theory and History: Choose ONE

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MUS 101ABC
  • MUS 111 World Music Traditions 
  • MUS 114 Music of the 20th Century 
  • MUS 126 Blues: An Oral Tradition 
  • MUS 127 Discover Jazz 
  • MUS 175 Musical Psychoacoustics 
  • PSYCH 138 Sound and Music Perception
  • VIS 151 History of the Experimental Film 
  • VIS 152 Film in Social Context 
  • VIS 152D Identity - Transnational Cinema 
  • VIS 153 The Genre Series 
  • VIS 154 Hard Look at the Movies 
  • VIS 155 The Director Series 
  • VIS 156 Latin American Cinema 
  • VIS 158 Histories of Photogaphy 
  • VIS 159: History of Art and Technology 
  • VIS 194 Fantasy in FIlm 

Senior Project 

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​*ICAM 160A Senior Project in Computer Arts 
  • ICAM 160B Senior Project in Computer Arts 

Advanced Practice: Choose ONE

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MUS 172 Computer Music II
  • MUS 174B/C Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques 
  • VIS 141B Computer Programming for the Arts II 
  • VIS 145B Digital Meida II
  • VIS 147B Electronic Technologies for Art I 

Electives: Choose TWO additional courses from Practice, Advanced Pracice or History/Theory OR

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MUS 198 Directed Group Study 
  • MUS 199 Independent Study 
  • VIS 198 Directed Group Study 
  • VIS 199 Special Studies 
  • AIP 197 Academic Internship 

* Prerequisite: VIS 141B, 145B , 147B, or MUS 172, OR Three of Four Advanced Electives 

Link to Visual Arts webpage for ICAM and Vis Arts Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule:   ^

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Link to Computer Science and Engineering webpage for CSE Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule: 

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Link to Mathematics webpage for Math Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule (select Course Descriptions or Planned Course Offerings):

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Recommendations for Transfer Students   ^

Transfer students should attempt to complete the following lower-division equivalent courses before transferring to UC San Diego: CSE 11 (or CSE 8A-B), MATH 20A-B (or Math 10A-B-C or Math 15A/CSE 20), MUS 4 and any other lower division courses for the major available at community college. Refer to http://www.assist.org.  ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California's public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California."

Students should also be able to find courses equivalent to MUS 1A, 6, and 14 at some colleges. While some of these may be listed on ASSIST, transfer students should be prepared to provide course descriptions, syllabi, and/or other materials that may be required to determine the content of the courses taken at other institutions.

Transfers entering with 36 or more quarter units by their third quarter of study at UC San Diego should complete their remaining lower-division courses for the major by the end of the third quarter.

Transfer students majoring in Music ICAM may or may not graduate in two years depending on the courses taken prior to UC San Diego.



Faculty   ^


Amy Alexander, M.F.A., Associate Professor, Visual Arts


Sheldon Brown, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Shlomo Dubnov, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Tom Erbe, B.S., Studio Director, Music


Louis Hock, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Lev Manovich, Ph.D., Professor, Visual Arts


Peter Otto, M.F.A., Music Technology Director, Music


Miller Puckette, Ph.D., Professor, Music


Tamara Smyth, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Brett Stalbaum, M.F.A., Lecturer, Visual Arts



Natacha Diels, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Music                                                 ndiels@ucsd.edu